Succession at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

New Excellus CEO-elect James Reed lives in Skaneateles, is a proponent of work-life steadiness and 18 months previously adopted a largely plant-based meals plan

By Lou Sorendo

James Reed started working at Excellus BlueCross Blue Defend in 1996. Most currently, he served as authorities vice-president of selling and product sales, and as regional president throughout the Central New York market.

True leaders sometimes step as a lot because the plate all through events of catastrophe.

For Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, newly named president and CEO-elect James Reed is doing merely that.

Reed, who joined Excellus in 1996, succeeds Christopher Gross sales house, who will retire on May 1, 2021. Reed most currently served as authorities vice chairman of selling and product sales.

“Nicely being care is such an important part of our neighborhood, and so my earlier experience in working rigorously with many alternative stakeholders has equipped me with a so much deeper understanding of the challenges that every one of us face,” Reed acknowledged. “It truly provides me with a incredible foundation for going into this new place.”

Reed has been working with Gross sales house for the earlier 10 years.

“That’s truly a incredible different for the next 10 months or so to basically proceed to work collaboratively on transitioning all through that time interval,” he added.

The workers at Excellus has been working remotely from home since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Fortunately earlier to the pandemic, we had a extraordinarily robust enterprise continuity plan,” Reed acknowledged. “Whereas I don’t assume anyone could have predicted what has occurred to this point this 12 months, we did have a plan in place. Via quite a few simulation exercises that now now we have completed, it truly put us in an amazing place to answer.”

When the catastrophe hit, the Excellus administration crew quickly centered organizational efforts on quite a lot of priorities.

“The first one was servicing our shoppers. This generally is a pandemic, and the mission of our agency is to supply entry to high-quality and cheap nicely being care,” he acknowledged. “If any of our shoppers are impacted by the virus, we would like as a nicely being plan to be there for them. We’ve to cope with servicing our shoppers.”

The company moreover sought to protect its funds.

“There was so much uncertainty that has been launched as a result of pandemic by the use of costs, the financial system and shoppers’ talent to pay their premiums,” he acknowledged. “We’ve to make sure that with the uncertainty, now now we have the financial wherewithal to proceed to serve our mission.”

One different priority for Excellus was to protect the roles of its employees.

“We took wanted steps on the very start of the pandemic to make sure now we have been doing our half in tightening our belts,” acknowledged Reed, noting this included a hiring and promotion freeze, along with holding on profit raises this 12 months.

“We made sure now we have been as conservative as we may presumably be realizing that our complete purpose is servicing our shoppers, making certain we proceed to service our mission and defending the roles of our employees,” he acknowledged.

Premium improve

Excellus BCBS is a nonprofit, mission-based group that strives to help people within the neighborhood get pleasure from extra wholesome and safer lives by entry to high-quality and cheap nicely being care.

“The alternatives that we make align to the mission of the company, and that’s the essential factor to our long-term success,” Reed acknowledged.

Excellus has responded to the pandemic by taking measures corresponding to rising reimbursement costs for telehealth; waiving out-of-pockets costs for telehealth; expediting funds of hospital claims, and implementing a 20% improve in reimbursement for COVID-19 admissions, all to chop again the chief burden to the provider neighborhood; and providing employer group assist to make sure people understand that in the event that they’re out of a job, they need to enroll in COBRA or need to grasp what decisions may be discovered throughout the explicit individual market, whether or not or not that is Medicaid or an expert nicely being plan.

The coronavirus outbreak is anticipated to worth the U.S. nicely being system some large money, which analysts suggest could suggest dramatic will enhance in insurance coverage protection premiums subsequent 12 months.

Reed shared his concepts with regard to what Excellus BlueCross BlueShield shoppers can anticipate by the use of premium will enhance in the end.

“Periodic cost modifications are important to permit our nicely being plan, or any insurer, to provide ample earnings and reserves to guarantee that the nicely being care desires of our members are met, for every current nicely being care desires and potential catastrophic worth situations,” he acknowledged.

Although requested cost will enhance are normally on account of annual will enhance within the related charge and utilization of medical care, Excellus’ cost requests to the state Division of Financial Suppliers for subsequent 12 months remained among the many many lowest in Upstate New York, Reed well-known.

This occurred no matter along with a 0.5% improve for anticipated elevated payments from the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

As for 2021, Excellus has submitted its request to the Division of Financial Suppliers and is among the many many lowest cost modifications filed for small group and explicit individual merchandise in New York state, he well-known.

“We should be as aggressive as doable on our prices,” he acknowledged.

For four years in a row, Excellus’ premium requests have been underneath the state frequent for what rivals have been asking, Reed acknowledged.

He acknowledged essential variables that may affect 2021 insurance coverage protection premiums include the number of members and number of claims.

In 2019, as an example, Excellus added further members and observed elevated claims, Reed well-known.

Its medical loss ratio (MLR), within the meantime, went from 86% in 2018 to 88% in 2019.

The MLR is the % of premium {{dollars}} an insurer spends on medical suppliers and top quality enhancements.

Striving to be the perfect

Reed acknowledged his philosophy for the earlier 25 years at Excellus has been fairly simple.

“I truly centered on doing the perfect job I’ll throughout the place that I was in, making certain I might search to know the massive picture and understand the commerce I was working in,” he acknowledged.

Reed acknowledged his philosophy moreover contains realizing what his place is and the place that place matches into the final success of the company.

From a philosophical perspective, Reed acknowledged he is a believer in specializing within the group’s targets and by no means explicit individual success.

For Reed, that features the necessity and willingness to work on himself.

“I consider non-public enchancment is a lifelong journey, and in case you might be self-reflective and ready to reinforce your self, then I consider you’ll be properly positioned to proceed to develop contained within the group,” he acknowledged.

Reed acknowledged 25 years previously when he started with Excellus, he didn’t pretty envision becoming CEO someday.

“Nonetheless I consider with each completely completely different step alongside the journey of my occupation, I made sure I was true to those core values and that administration philosophy,” he acknowledged.

With every new different that obtained right here alongside, Reed began to see that as he continued to work, develop and be a useful member to the group, good points continued to happen.

Reed sees the non-public enchancment piece as most likely essential.

He acknowledged nobody is right as a frontrunner or simply as a human being.

“Do you have to understand that and are ready to self-reflect, research and proceed to develop, then I consider that is the important thing for anybody to be an amazing chief,” he added.

Plant-based lifestyle

On the subject of reaching a healthful work-life steadiness, Reed acknowledged it is essential for any chief to acknowledge the need to realize this intention.

“It is presumably further important to actually model the behaviors that lead to increased steadiness,” he acknowledged. “It’s one issue to say, ‘we have to make sure that our employees have steadiness’, nonetheless once you don’t model the habits your self, then what unintentional alerts are you sending to of us who you are employed with or who provide the outcomes you need?”

That habits incorporates making certain to eat a nutritious weight loss plan, getting adequate sleep, exercising, and spending time with family and buddies, Reed acknowledged.

“This has resulted in me with the flexibility to be involved with my kids by instructing youth sports activities actions,” acknowledged Reed, noting he coached each one amongst his three kids by the seventh- and eighth-grade ranges in quite a few sports activities actions that they engaged in.

“To me, it means having fun with golf with buddies, making certain I am home for dinner as so much as doable and cooking dinner with my partner and spending good top quality time there, typically taking walks and taking my canine out for walks,” he acknowledged.

“It is truly the habits that you simply’d most likely assume most people should be doing,” he acknowledged.

At events by means of the years when Reed feels wired about what’s going on at work, he takes the time to self replicate.

At the moment, “I can see that I’ve not been specializing in any a sort of points, whether or not or not that is sleep, consuming nicely being, spending time with family or exercising,” he acknowledged.

“To me, an amazing healthful steadiness options somewhat little little bit of all these points,” he acknowledged.

Just a few 12 months and a half previously, Reed took on an issue generated by Excellus employees to remodel to a largely plant-based lifestyle.

“For the earlier 18 to 19 months, I’ve pretty rigorously caught to that lifestyle. I’ve seen tremendous benefits from it by the use of vitality diploma and evidenced by my completely completely different biometric screening outcomes and numbers complete,” Reed acknowledged. “On the entire, by consuming largely a plant-based meals plan, I’ve tremendously benefitted from it.”

“It’s troublesome and does take self-discipline, however it absolutely’s not has laborious as I assumed it might be or as people could assume it is,” he acknowledged.

The supply of belongings along with entry to of us who’re on a similar journey is helpful, he acknowledged.


Birthplace: Elmira

Current residence: Skaneateles

Coaching: Bachelor of Science in enterprise administration from Le Moyne School, Syracuse; Grasp of Enterprise Administration from Le Moyne School

Affiliations: Reed is vigorous on fairly a number of native boards, along with CenterState CEO, Bigger Rochester Chamber of Commerce, HealtheConnections, Syracuse Stage and the Make-A-Need Foundation of Central New York.

Awards: Reed is a 2008 recipient of the Bigger Syracuse “40 Beneath 40” award and the 2020 YWCA Champion of Selection Award.

Non-public: Married with three kids

Hobbies: Cooking, instructing his kids’s sports activities actions